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The Pollution Solution

Nancy Jeffries
Back to the April Issue

Science and skin care have become inseparable. Consumers want healthy, glowing skin, and technological advances are meeting this demand. Products that reduce under-eye puffiness, eliminate dark circles, minimize pores, even skin tone and enhance clarity have prompted research in new materials, delivery system synergies, plant extracts and functional actives. Skin care products can no longer satisfy by merely repairing the damage done. Just as technology marches ever forward, expectations rise and evolve as well. Products are now targeting the causes of skin damage: the myriad environmental pollutants of which skin is a constant victim. The trend, which drives technological advancement in the skin care category, is to provide advance defense systems and trigger positive changes against current conditions.

Protecting DNA from Pollution
The scientific community is taking a hard look at the effects of pollution and electromagnetic waves in the environment. Toxic aldehydes, released as gas in the atmosphere and generated primarily by atmospheric pollution, are a major constituent of environmental pollution, according to Christophe Paillet, director of development and communications, Exsymol. Toxic aldehydes form directly on the skin as endogenous aldehydes.

“In contact with living tissue, these molecules are able to react on the majority of the amino acids and, thus, deteriorate the proteins (and) the cells,” said Paillet. “(This) can even lead to significant modification of DNA. We have studied the mechanisms of toxic aldehydes using adapted experimental models.”

Exsymol designed antioxidant materials, Exsy-Arl and Alistin, which include a number of “pollution-oriented peptides.”

“While Exsy-Arl has been more specifically designed to be active against toxic aldehydes, heavy metals and other key compounds of pollution, Alistin is a more general active dipeptide that can detoxify not only pollution damage, but many other toxins—such as lipoperoxides and free radicals,” said Paillet. “In the particular case of pollution, both Alistin and Exsy-Arl are able to detoxify.”

The company’s first model studied the effects of cigarette smoke, an established environmental pollutant, among a culture of keratinocytes. After 10 minutes of contact in a closed volume, 50% of the cells died. When cultured in the presence of Exsy-Arl, 75% of the cells could survive the same measure of exposure. In another model, similar conditions were applied to a skin explant, and specific enzymatic activities were monitored. “In this experiment,” said Paillet, “cigarette smoke was replaced by a gaseous blend of toxic aldehydes (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acroleine—major constituents of polluted air). Here again, it was evident that the cutaneous enzymatic activity was drastically lowered, whereas 2% of Exsy-Arl applied on the skin explant could almost completely protect the proteic enzymes.”

Paillet noted, however, that while the chemical mechanism of action had not been investigated precisely, it did provide evidence that peptides show spectacular reducing effects, particularly on peroxides. “We can suggest that some oxido-reduction reactions may be involved in the antipollution mechanisms of our dipeptides,” said Paillet. “In addition, Exsy-Arl is able to specifically scavenge heavy metals, also present in pollution. Finally, a major interest of these dipeptides, according to our predictive investigations using software and other biochemical appliances, is their resistance to enzymatic deactivation. As opposed to most peptides, Alistin and Exsy-Arl are not only active in vitro, but their activity is maintained when they are applied on the skin.”

Paillet observed that one major damaging effect due to pollutants included the genotoxic effect, in relation to carcinogenesis, due to impairment of DNA and mutation.

“For the time being, a reliable estimation of the risk associated with pollution exposure remains difficult to achieve, as (little) available data comes from laboratory experiments,” said Paillet. “Chemoprevention, however, appears to be an important issue for cosmetics.”
According to Sylvia Deltort, marketing director, Greentech, the company’s TEALINE product contains a DNA protector agent obtained from red, white and green teas, and is suitable for use in antipollution formulas. The agents are said to offer protection at the cellular and molecular levels, as well as protection for the tissues. Green tea is composed of young leaves that are not fermented, characterized by high polyphenol content. White tea, also named Yinzhen tea, grows at high altitude, and is harvested when the antioxidant potential is at its highest. The drying process of white tea allows the preservation of the polyphenol content responsible for its properties. Red tea, or Rooibos, from South Africa is a natural antioxidant.

TEALINE has an anti-radicular effect, and can play the role of a protective active against environmental aggressors. At the molecular level, free radicals generated by environmental pollution may occasion lesions at the molecular level that can lead to DNA mutations. Greentech notes that it is recommended for use in cosmetics—including protective antiaging, soothing, detoxifying and after-sun creams.

International Specialty Products (ISP), through its acquisition of Vincience, offers a full range of skin care actives. Several are designed to improve the natural defense mechanism of the skin as well as protect skin barrier function. Phytoquintescine, an einkorn extract rich in Glutathione-biomimetic peptide, preserves skin from oxidative stresses, and is said to improve the natural defense mechanism of skin so it significantly protects cells from protein carbonylation, DNA damage and lipid peroxidation. Another, Oleanoline, is a detoxifying and soothing olive leaf extract that protects cells from chemical aggression. It is also a UVB insult, and is said to protect skin barrier function and reduce skin irritation. In addition, Phytocohesine PSP, a botanical cholesterol sulfate analogue, reinforces skin barrier function. According to ISP’s Global Skin Research Center (formerly Vincience), it also protects against UV and chemical aggressions and improves hydration in normal and dry skins. Lastly, Collaxyl, a collagen peptide, decreases skin wrinkles, based on clinical research, and enhances skin repair.

To decrease wrinkles and smooth, lift and improve the skin’s natural defense mechanisms with botanically derived active ingredients, ISP’s portfolio includes: perenityl, an antiwrinkle, antiaging active from pear seed extract, rich in ursolic acid, flavonoids and phytosterols; suberlift, a smoothing active from cork oak extract, rich in suberin; ederline, an antiwrinkle apple seed extract, which is said to compensate for age-related hormone decline and aid in increasing collagen synthesis; and lastly, d’orientine, from date palm kernel extract, said to help decrease wrinkles while improving skin’s natural defense mechanisms against oxidative stressors.

Brightening the Retail Environment
Because pollutants are toxins that irritate the skin and deplete it of its moisture, accelerating the aging process, antipollution products are flooding retail shelves, piggybacking the antiaging product trend.

Expertise 3P, a new product from Clarins, is said to shield the skin from various forms of damage—premature aging, sensitivity, dehydration and dullness—caused by electromagnetic waves produced by communication devices. Available as a mist formula, the product is formulated to reinforce the skin’s natural barriers and is said to protect against biological stress and increase cellular energy. Its formulation creates an invisible, adherent protective screen on the skin.

“Following a groundbreaking discovery by Clarins researchers that proved exposure to pollution, including electromagnetic rays, can lead to premature aging, we developed Expertise 3P, a worldwide first in antipollution protection,” said Caroline Pieper-Vogt, senior vice president of marketing, Clarins Brand Division, USA.

Two plant combinations form the basis for the product. Thermus thermophilus is a marine microorganism that grows in a very hostile environment of severely low temperatures and high pressure; Rhodiola rosea is a small perennial plant found in Arctic regions, known as an “adaptogen” for its ability to survive. The antipollution complex in the formulation consists of white tea extract to neutralize free radicals—up to 80%, according to the company—and protect cell membranes from environmental aggressors. Succory dock cress helps increase cellular energy, and glycofilm, composed of sugars, forms the invisible, physical screen to slow the penetration of pollution particles into the skin. It may be sprayed several times a day, alone or over makeup.

Urban environmental pollutants such as smoke and smog are the targets of Clinique’s new City Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector. According to Clinique, moisture wicking fibers and an extract sourced from algae helps reduce excess oil on the skin’s surface. The moisture wicking fibers are said to repel perspiration, as well as help makeup stay put, and laminaria saccharina extract, sourced from algae, helps reduce oil production. Additional ingredients keep moisture in balance and maintain the barrier properties of the skin. The product, which will be on counter in May 2007, is said to help minimize the daily dose of incidental sun exposure that can cause alterations in the skin’s natural defense system while providing antioxidants and anti-irritants.

Another entry in the antipollution arsenal, Orlane’s Hypnotherapy Anti-Age Eye Contour Crème features a potent source of Omega 3—Red Tocol Arctic Cranberry, which enhances the skin’s resistance to environmental aggressions. The product also contains antiagers.
Sampar’s Urban Active Complex, created by Parlabo Laboratories and included in all Sampar products, was designed to address skin damage caused by atmospheric pollutants such as carbon monoxide, lead and free radicals. The complex is composed of a blend of natural active ingredients extracted from shea butter, mint leaves, and plant and milk sugar. The gallic acid in shea butter provides an antipollution shield to strengthen the skin’s natural resistance while detoxifying free radicals, neutralizing pollutants and reducing inflammation. Mint leaf extract stimulates the production of pleasure hormones (B endomorphins), which initiate a soothing effect and calm irritation. The sugars combine to restore the skin’s equilibrium and stimulate cell regeneration. Sampar’s Pure Perfection line—which includes a foaming cleanser, moisturizer and mask—targets areas where pollutants and toxins can accumulate.

Innovative technologies continue to support the advances made specifically in the areas of skin and body care. Great strides have been made in active ingredient research, synergistic blends and targeted delivery. Today, manufacturers have a wide range of formulation options from which to choose, and customers a whole new variety of treatment products to select and utilize.

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